April 20, 2010

Do not adjust your TV sets or whack them: That whining sound you hear is the petulant uproar by right-wing pundits upset about Bill Clinton's comparison of the Tea Party's rhetoric to that of the militia/Patriot movement that inspired the bombing of Oklahoma City.

The whine coming from Fox News Channel alone was enough to permeate entire cable systems. Leading the way was Fox's anchor sage, Brit Hume, who just couldn't believe Clinton was concerned about the problem when he never denounced similarly ugly rhetoric from the left during the Bush years. Bill O'Reilly picked up that ball and ran with it too, inviting Mary Katherine Ham to conclude, once again -- after eluding a bizarre O'Reilly nonsequitur -- that it was part of a plot by the "left" to "demonize" the poor ordinary Tea Partiers.

Of course, the Tea Partiers themselves would never demonize anyone, would they? Other than that evil Kenyan Muslim radical Barack Obama. And his Marxist fascist progressive enablers. Just a wee bit.

And where, as we noted, do you suppose anyone could have gotten the idea that Tea Partiers have anything to do with the militia/Patriot movement of the 1990s?

You don't suppose it could have had anything to do with the saturation of Tea Party events with Patriot movement ideas and agendas, as well as its many conspiracy theories, embodied in all those Patriot movement and militia leaders appearing at Tea Party events, do you?

Or maybe he got it from those news reports out of Oklahoma in which a state Tea Party leader advocated forming militias.

Funny thing about those stories: None of them were ever reported on Fox News.

Because from the very first Tax Day Tea Party protests of last year, Fox has been intimately involved in promoting the Tea Parties. It's their beast, and now they get to live with it.

Which is why they've been running from its inevitably violent outcomes as fast and furiously as they possibly can.

O'Reilly in particular has been adamant in selling the notion that the Tea Partiers are just ordinary folks, and if there's been ugly rhetoric, well hey, the left does it too!

Except, as we've explained, that's a bogus claim. There are important and substantive differences between hate talk from the left and the right:

Come and talk to us again about how nasty and wrong hateful talk from the left is when:

-- A liberal walks into a church and opens fire on the congregation because they're all a bunch of conservatives and he wants to kill as many right-wingers as he can.

-- A liberal walks into another church and shoots a doctor in the head.

-- A liberal shoots three police officers who come to his door because he fears the president is going to take his guns away.

-- A liberal walks into the Holocaust Museum and shoots a guard because he hates Jews and believes it's time to start a race war.

-- A liberal walks into the Pentagon and opens fire because he believes the government is plotting against its citizens.

-- A pack of gun-loving liberals forms a plot to kill law-enforcement officers and start a revolution.

See, that isn't happening. But it is happening with characters from the right, opening fire on various perceived "liberal" targets, law enforcement officers, and government employees. (In order, they've happened in Knoxville, in Wichita, in Pittsburgh, in Washington, twice, and this past weekend in the Midwest.)

No doubt there are some liberals who use ugly and sometimes even violent rhetoric. But there's a big difference between what's actually happening on the ground in terms of the behavior of right-wingers and left-wingers when it comes to acting on the rhetoric: The fanatics on the right are decidedly more violent, and act out violently with much greater frequency.

Why is that? Well, there are two big differences between left-wing and right-wing hate talk, one qualitative, the other quantitative:

-- Right-wing talk is decidedly more violent and openly eliminationist -- which is to say, it speaks more openly about eliminating entire blocs of their fellow Americans, and it does so by harkening to violent themes with much greater frequency.

-- The sheer volume of right-wing hate talk is so much greater. Not only are there more examples, by an exponential factor, of right-wing hatefulness, but the talk is emanating from the upper reaches of the right-wing hierarchy: on TV and radio talk shows with hosts who spew eliminationist hatred daily to audiences of millions daily, and among politicians who represent the supposed mainstream of officialdom, and thus lend their imprimatur to such behavior.

Finally, the Tea Party apologists want to pretend that the only thing the protesters are out there saying is that they want smaller government, lower taxes, and reduced spending.

Well gee, if that's all they were on about, I don't think anyone would be concerned about their rhetoric.

Instead, we get get Tea Party leaders -- including Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Joseph Farah and various other figures -- promoting death panels, FEMA concentration camps, birth-certificate theories, Tenther "constitutionalist" theories, and an entire range of similarly false nutcase ideas that reflect people unhinged from any sense of reality.

That's how tragedies like the Oklahoma City bombing happen. And the fine folks at Fox are so busy denying it, they're helping make it happen.

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